After years of inactivity from the series, I had long ago come to accept that TimeSplitters was staying firmly in the rear window. For almost a decade, Crytek had the IP vaulted away without as much as a peep about a possible revival…and then it happened. THQ Nordic, in metaphorical shining armour, came riding into town and bought the rights to the TimeSplitters franchise. With this acquisition it makes it highly likely, if not inevitable, that we will either see a remastered trilogy or a series reboot – if there is a gaming god, we might even get both. Of course, all you can really ask for in a remaster is a graphical overhaul and a bit of spit and polish as the original three games (TimeSplitters 2 in particular) are already some of the best arcade shooters to date. A reboot, on the other hand, makes way for some tantalising speculation. If a reboot is on the cards for the future then I have a wishlist of features and ideas for THQ to have a look over.
THQ, take me back to the good old days
The original games were never going to win any awards for tear-jerking, thought-provoking narratives, but that was all part of their charm. Video games as a medium have progressed so far in the ways of storytelling that they often eclipse the emotional depth that a movie or television show can produce. Amongst the emotive powerhouses of The Last of Us and God of War, it is good to have a palette cleanser. Returning to the self-aware craziness of the originals would be a fantastic fit for the modern market. The campaigns from the originals were packed with diverse levels where you could go straight from the Wild West to jumping straight into a mobster-run Chicago before being thrown into zombie-infested Paris; it was cheesy and it was wonderful.
Diving headfirst into a B-Grade action film style plot would open up the title to more zany characters, fun set pieces and balls-out crazy locales that the series has become known for. The worst thing that could befall a remake would be a dark and gritty redesign that strips away the fun from the franchise (I’m looking at you Bomberman: Act Zero). So please, keep the ridiculous plot revolving around time jumping, squid-mouthed aliens and if you have an idea that sounds like it would be at home in a straight-to-DVD movie, let me play it.
A lion, a bear, and a snowman walk into a bar…
If the single-player portion of the originals was the main course, the multiplayer was definitely the delicious dessert. Fast, frantic and filled with a massive amount of characters and weapons, this is where a huge amount of hours from my childhood went. Very little would need to be changed in a new outing to make it as addictive as the previous games, just give me a bunch of maps, a bunch of guns and a bunch of friends and I’ll be happy. As with any modern multiplayer game, there would more than likely be an online component that would allow you to play with the rest of the world which would be fantastic, but I also pray for the option to play locally with split-screen. I know that local multiplayer is somewhat of a relic these days, but TimeSplitters itself is a relic from the past as well, so why not let two dinosaurs meet and give us some tasty couch gaming. I might be pushing it with this, but a co-op campaign would also be a very welcome addition, just saying.
As far as the actual gameplay is concerned, I would love to see the stupidity of some of the multiplayer modes make a return as well. Virus, Leech and even Monkey Assistant were all fun as hell and gave the matches a little extra zing. It would be great to see these match modifiers make a comeback and I would be keen to see some new match types included alongside fan favourites. I would personally include a mode that sees everyone play as Handyman, requiring you to shoot each of the fingers individually for a kill, that’s just me though.
Giving the player control over the specifics of the match was also a brilliant feature that I would like to see again. Having the option to select what weapons spawn in the map and what AI controlled characters you get to shoot at opened the matches up to some real creativity and more importantly real fun. Most vital of all, give the player the ability to slide. My young self got incredibly frustrated watching the bots slide about all over the place while all I could muster was a running crouch. Fix this THQ Nordic, fix this.
Mexican Mission, where boys become men
One of the most wonderful things about the originals was just how jam-packed with content they were. Every character that pops up in the campaign or challenge modes, no matter how brief, was playable in multiplayer provided that you unlocked them through completing certain requirements. This gave the games a great progression that kept you going back time and time again to unlock everything that the game had to offer. My fear is that this could be changed to instead have extra characters, modes and weapons locked behind paid DLC. I would be completely fine with paying for classic skins from previous instalments but please give us a hefty amount of in-game unlocks to wade through.
As I’m sure it is pretty evident I’m very partial to the idea of a remake keeping many of the fundamentals of the original games, but by all means, I truly believe that if a new title is to appear that it should stand on its own two feet. Of course I want to have a sense of nostalgia while playing it, but the guys and gals at THQ Nordic should make it theirs. One of the main priorities should be to keep the identity of the series intact, but they shouldn’t be afraid to take some risks and let their creativity run wild.
Let the ridiculous characters be free from DLC
Less than a year ago these thoughts would have been nothing more than ramblings from a madman who is overly optimistic, so for TimeSplitters to be back in the public eye in any capacity is a step in the right direction. Obviously we are a long way from any sort of announcement, and further so from a release, but both myself and all other fans of the series have waited this long, so hopefully patience will eventually pay off. Until then I will dust off my PS2 and play through the originals for the umpteenth time to tide myself over, oh and THQ if you have any questions about any points I have raised, feel free to get in contact.